Rome, Italy – September 12, 2010 – Getting There
Let’s face it, travel to Europe from Calgary, Alberta, Canada can be a gruelling exercise. In the past we have only flown into London, an 8.5 hour flight. We have left in the afternoon from home, landing in London in the morning their time, but pushing midnight Calgary time. Late enough to start being tired, but not a good thing with the full day ahead and no sleep on the plane. We kind of figured out last time to stay up for a few hours, have a 3 hour nap, then get up, have a bit of lunch and then, start drinking and continue until you pass out mid-evening. You wake up with a bit of a hangover, but have made the transition to GMT.
This trip would be a 14 hour plain, train and automobile thing, as there are no direct flights out of Calgary to Rome. We flew British Airways to Heathrow in London, with a 2 hour layover to Rome. We went this route to try something different on departure time. This flight departed at 9:30 in the evening, meaning it would be midnight over Hudson Bay and maybe sleep would come. For the first time in a zillion flights, I actually did fall asleep. I think for a good 4 hours or so. We got into Heathrow, easily making our connection into Rome and settled in for the last part of the trip in.
We landed at Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport (naturally) in Fiumicino, just south of Rome. The flight path took us directly over Paris (big place) and the Alps, then down the west coast of Italy, with a big swing out over the Mediterranean to land .
Once we gathered our luggage, the next problem was getting to Rome (and our apartment) from the airport. My advice, do not take a cab. Hugely expensive. There are kiosks for shuttles throughout the airport. We set up with one (40 euros) and we were off. The airport is a long. long way from the old city. We hit the road and were greeted by, get this, a brush fire. Yes, an all out grass fire right up to the edge of the highway with multiple fire crews fighting the fire and thick smoke billowing out along the road. Didn’t seem to faze our driver, maintained his speed, as did all of them, right through dense smoke and flame. Having passed that, we were left to marvel at the streams of traffic weaving its way into the city. Amazing traffic. It was now dark and we did not see a lot of the city. At some point, we hit our home away from home, “Studio Apartment Tritone at the Spanish Steps”.
Lori had again made a wonderful choice. As we found out, this place was in the right place, affordable and just plain great. We met up with Alessandro was there to greet us and assist in lugging our luggage up the steps to the 5th floor. Unfortunately, no elevator, so do not book if you can’t do stairs. we stowed our luggage and headed out for a bite. We found a restaurant right across the street, had our first taste of Rome food. then left for our first walk. We decided to try to find the Trevi Fountain. A 5 minute walk and we were there, and so was half of Rome it seems. We learned that Rome is an evening place. It was 11 at night and the place was alive with people.
We, being both tired and Rome rookies, went for a walk along some of the streets in the area. Restaurants everywhere and people, lots of people. Being tired, we decided to stop for a drink and then head home. We pulled up a seat at a bar close to our apartment and facing Piazza Barberini and the Fontana del tritone (Tritone Fountain) and had a couple of Bierra Picollas. A couple of gentleman sat at the next table and struck up a conversation. They asked where we were from and that they were from Tehran, Iran. I said Calgary and they had no idea. I said I was surprised that they had never heard of Alberta as we had more oil than they did. He laughed and we carried on for a while. A couple of tables down was couple from Toronto, who vouched for our Canadianess and our oil richness to the Iranians. Pretty cool place and a fun conversation.
We finished up, said good night and headed off for bed. A very long day, and Rome looked like it was going to be incredible.